It is our pleasure to finally feature the lovely picture book in verse by one of our Poetry Friday friends, Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Josée Bisaillon. BookSpeak! is actually one of the inspiration for our current bimonthly theme Books about Books and the River of Words. Poetry Friday is hosted this week by one of our favorite teacher-bloggers of all times: the comforting, sensitive, and lovely Linda Baie of TeacherDance.

This is a definite must-read for bibliophiles who have an ongoing romance with the crispy pages of books as they whisper secrets and truths to a reader’s ear. It is a tribute to readers everywhere as could be seen in the opening poem that sets the tone for the entire book: Calling All Readers.

I promise adventure.

Come on, take a look!

On a day like today, 

there’s no friend like a book.

Honestly, I could not agree more. The reader is also in for a treat as A Character Pleads for His Life – surely, we can set this character free by turning that first page and holding his hand throughout his adventures.

Laura also gives space to that forgotten, unloved book in On the Shelf and Under the Bed, and she shares how the middle part of the book feels sandwiched and forgotten in The Middle’s Lament: A Poem for Three Voices. I also love how Laura waxed lyrical about the Book Plate (I should really get one of these) and Index:

I always say, if you really

want to know what’s in a book,

go to the back.

I can tell you the page number

of anything you’re looking for.

I was taken by The Sky is Falling – exactly how a book must feel whenever a young girl snoozes off into dreamland while reading – something that often happens to my own ten year old daughter. And have I already mentioned how stunning and glorious the illustrations are? The soft and muted colors are a perfect match to Laura’s mellifluous and hushed voice as she ‘bookspeaks’ and touches our hearts with the music in her lines. I also love how each poem is put together like a string of book-pearls – perfectly crafted from start to finish.

For today’s Poetry Friday, allow me to share one of my favorite poems from Laura’s beautiful book.

Skywriting by Laura Purdie Salas

Line after line of inky black birds

forming the flocks that shift into words.

Page after page of tales winging by,

singing a story against a

white sky.

And that is exactly what poetry is about, dear friends: skywriting. Need I say more?

Book Speak! Poems about Books by Laura Purdie Salas and Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon. Clarion Books, New York, 2011. Book provided by author/publisher. Book photos taken by me.

Finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. AWB Reading Challenge Update: 109 (35)

Picture Book Challenge Update: 119 of 120

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

32 comments on “Poetry Friday: Do You Speak Book?

  1. It is a truly scrumptious book, I agree Myra. I love those ‘inky black birds’ with their ‘flocks shifting into words.’ Thank you for reminding us about this book.


  2. I’m a big fan of this book, too. “On the Shelf and Under the Bed” is one of my favorite poems — Laura’s poems are so imaginative.


    • Hi Laura, they are indeed imaginative and colorful and more importantly they breathed life into one of my favorite things in the world – books!


  3. Well, this is just the loveliest review ever. Thank you so much for sharing BookSpeak with your readers, Myra. I am totally honored! “Skywriting” is one of my top three favorites in the book. It was one of those gift poems that came without much effort–a rarity for me!


    • Hi Laura, I’m truly happy that you loved the review. 🙂 It was such a pleasure receiving your book and reading the glorious poems enclosed within the pages.


  4. Wonderful review, Myra. You’ve done a great job of tantalizing your reader, that would be me. I haven’t read this yet, but now it’s on my must-get-my-hands-on list.


  5. Oh, this is one of my favorite poems from Laura’s book, too! Such a delight, this collection, and how grand to see it shared here today, Myra.


  6. Lovely to be reminded of this wonderful book. It’s truly a treasure; I love the whimsical points of view. 🙂


    • I always favor the whimsy and the fantastical (ok, and the eye candies too with the sweet tongue and the sharp mind – repartees have to be part of the package, otherwise I snooze). 😉


  7. Continued cheers for BOOKSPEAK! So glad to see it featured here. “Skywriting” is my favorite poem in it, too (though hard to choose!). Thanks for sharing, dear Myra. :0)


  8. I am another fan of this book and especially love that “Skywriting” poem you posted. Wonderful images!


  9. I too am a fan of this wonderful collection of poems. My favorite is “If a Tree Falls.”


  10. What a loving review, Myra, enough to make any book stick out its chest with pride. 🙂 And “Skywriting” is just beautiful — I think your word “mellifluous” is the perfect one to describe this delicacy. Thanks for all the great peeks inside, and to Laura for giving us these poems!


    • Hi Renee, a fitting review for an undoubtedly beautiful book indeed. And of course only a poet like you can write phrases such as “make any book stick out its chest with pride” – I so love that imagery! 🙂


  11. The illustrations look absolutely wonderful, too. Thanks for sharing this.


  12. izatrapani1

    Such a great collection of beautiful poems and the illustrations are lovely as well. Thanks for sharing!


  13. LOVE this book! Thanks for the reminder. I will use some of these poems to introduce nonfiction text structures!


  14. I love poetry + I love books = I have to get this book! 🙂


  15. Hello, Myra–
    I thought I knew this book pretty well but you’ve helped me see it all over again–which is to the credit of author and illustrator as well as to you! Thanks.


  16. Pingback: Gathering Books Shows BookSpeak Some Book Love | laurasalas

  17. This book is not only a wonderful introduction to the various parts of a book and writing in general, but also a lovely way to share the art of poetry with children. One of my favorites! (And as a veteran homeschooling mom of six, children’s book and parenting author, and dedicated bibliophile, that’s saying something!)


  18. Pingback: October Round Up! «

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